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The Art of Judging: Experienced Accelerator Judges Share Insights on What it Takes to Judge a Pitch

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The MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator is one of the most sought-after startup accelerators in the country. It offers a high-profile platform for startups to launch their businesses and the chance to gain access to mentors, investors, and resources to help them succeed. 

The MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator offers its participants a variety of resources and support to help them launch their businesses. These include mentorship from top-tier entrepreneurs, access to investment capital, and connections to a vast network of industry professionals. The accelerator also provides startups with access to workshops, educational webinars, and resources to support their growth. Additionally, they offer access to marketing and public relations support, along with branding and design services. 

MassChallenge uses a competition model to select our startups. Prospective MassChallenge startups submit application(s) for the MassChallenge program(s) they would like to join. After submitting the application, startups will participate in one or two rounds of judging. At the end of these judging rounds, the highest-impact and highest-potential startups are invited to participate in the program as finalists.

To ensure that the accelerator program is a success, it requires a panel of experienced judges to evaluate and rank the startups’ pitches. Judges for the MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator are selected based on their experience and expertise in the startup industry. These judges are typically well-known entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and industry experts who have a deep understanding of the early-stage startup landscape. They are also chosen based on their ability to provide thoughtful feedback on the startups’ pitches and provide valuable insight into the business models. 

To gain insight into the experience of judging a pitch, we learned the experiences of three experts who have served as judges for the MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator. 

Jonathan Gilbert, VP of Exploratory Research at SQZ Biotechnologies: “Having been part of MassChallenge as part of a small company almost ten years ago, it was a formative time, and so glad to be able to help identify the next leading companies. If you are starting a new company, check out this accelerator.”

In his experience, Jonathan believes that a successful pitch should have both a strong business plan and a compelling narrative. He also believes that it is essential for the judge to have a good understanding of the startup’s industry and the market opportunity. 

Charos Boboyorova, Senior Full Stack Developer, NC/LC expert: “Technology is transforming the way we think about problem-solving, and the emergence of low code development platforms is a game-changer for businesses. As a judge at MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator, I’m excited to see how entrepreneurs leverage the power of AI and low-code/no-code tools to unlock new possibilities and create innovative solutions.” 

Charos believes that the most important part of judging a pitch is to evaluate the team’s ability to solve a real problem. She recommends that judges focus on assessing the team’s approach to choosing the right technology for solving problems. She says that using the right technology can help startups save time and resources. By using the right technology, startups can automate routine tasks, streamline processes, and better manage their data. This helps them focus their efforts on the most important aspects of their business, such as developing and launching new products and services.

Lindsay Canant, founder of Lindsey Canant Brand & Marketing: “I’m thrilled to be a round 1 judge for the MassChallenge U.S. Early Stage Accelerator. This role is a sentimental and special one for me. As a MassChallenge judge, I couldn’t be more excited to give other “can’t help it” entrepreneurs feedback on their 1st, 2nd, or 3,000th concept. Entrepreneurship is thrilling, boring, and terrifying – all at once. It’s an inevitable mix of steady, slow iteration and rollercoaster-level whiplash. And over time, growth looks like a spiral staircase. Cheers to entrepreneurs. And cheers to growth.”

Lindsay believes that the key to a successful pitch is to focus on the team’s ability to tell a story. She also recommends that judges look for evidence of customer traction and engagement.

These experts provide valuable insight into the experience of judging a pitch for the MassChallenge US Early Stage 2023 Accelerator. By taking the time to understand the importance of each judge’s role, startups can ensure that their pitches will be judged fairly and accurately.

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